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Star One - Space Metal (Special Edition) CD (album) cover


Star One


Progressive Metal

3.94 | 96 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Science Fiction themes and incredible metal make a formidable combination! Star One's "Space Metal" is Ayreon's pet project that never disappoints with incredible compositions based on sci fi themes from novels, TV and movies. There are some genuinely masterful metal riffs, some played at blinding speeds, others breathing melancholy ambience. I love the way the songs are based on well known sci fi themes, and one listen to the lyrics makes it obvious to the average sci fi freak, such as myself. It is a pleasant surprise when one discovers what the songs are about, which are usually excellent sci fi films. Part of the fun is finding within the lyrics the references to specific sci fi icons. The players are icons of prog metal including on vocals Russell Allen from Symphony X, Damian Wilson, Floor Jansen from after Forever, Irene Jansen of Karma, and Robert Soeterboek, as well as guest Dave Brock of Hawkwind. Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the main lead guitarist, joined by After Forever's keyboardist Joost van den Broek, Peter Vink on bass, and Ed Warby on drums from Gorefest.

'Lift-Off' is a nice intro with spacey elements leading to 'Set Your Controls', a fast chugging riffer with awesome Ayreon style vocals. Manic keyboard wizardry, and cranking metal riffs drive this. The lead break is amazing, and this is one of the best album openers for Ayreon. Thematically it could be based on just about any saga where a spacecraft lifts off for an alien planet. Actually it is based on "Doctor Who" though you will have to listen carefully to pick up the references as I missed it and had to look it up.

'High Moon' has Deep Purple style grinding organ and the crawling metal riffs are awesome. The sound is huge with deep crunching riffs and slow vocals. It is all based on the movie "Outland" and certainly works as a tribute to the Sean Connery movie of the 70s. It follows the plot closely, the drugs, the deaths and the final shoot out in space. I love it.

'Songs Of The Ocean' has the trademark female and male voices working together that permeates the Ayreon albums. This one is based on "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" where the whales are transmitting important messages that cannot be interpreted or answered when whales are extinct in the future. So the Enterprise has to go back in time to the 80s when whales existed. It is in interesting idea and Star One capitalises on this "we survived the human race, but don't know the words to the songs of the ocean." It is a memorable melody and has some nice submarine effects. It segues seamlessly into 'Master Of Darkness'.

The next song is quite heavy with emotional deep vocals trading off with higher register vocals very effectively. Who is the master of darkness? Definitely based on the evil villain of just about any sci fi story. However this one is based on "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" though is not as blatant lyrically which is perhaps a good thing as it may have sounded corny if it had mentioned Luke or Darth Vader. 'The Eye Of Ra' is a longer song at 7:34, based on a traveller from another galaxy, finding a comet, gaining powers and finding a gateway to the stars; "Stargate" anyone? I am not a fan of the series but it definitely rings of the Egyptian themes in that saga. The song is great in any case, atmospheric and powerful, with great majestic vocals that are mixed to the front at the end but are a bit too bombastic really.

'Sandrider' must be based on "Dune" I speculated before I heard it, and I was right, Frank Herbert's classic novel is given the Star One treatment with admirable guitar ferocity and some fantastic keyboards. The low vocals are effective; "I had seen places man has never seen, am I the one to fulfil the prophecy on the desert planet in our galaxy." The Arabian style melodies enhance the atmosphere, as well as that brilliant lead guitar.

'Perfect Survivor' had me stumped for a while as to what is was based on until I heard the lyrics; "my secret mission brings me back to reality, I had to bring it back alive," thus it is from the point of view of robot Ash in "Alien". Other lyrics that indicate this include, "you should know that you all are expendable, I have been programmed to put you out of action." The riffs in this track are killer and very dark and it is a definite highlight of the album. The odd time sigs are augmented by powerful lead breaks and the harmonies are great too.

'Intergalactic Space Crusaders' begins with shimmering organ and a steady chugging metal riff. The lyrics are about a prison in space, and a man who has had his memory blanked, innocent dying, and 7 people fighting against the Federation's system, okay it is definitely "Blakes 7". The lyrics "dominator, Liberator" make it even more blatant. Now that I have ascertained what it is about I can enjoy the lyrics even more. I love how Star One are using sci fi themes from my favourite movies and TV shows. This has a strong melodic chorus and delightful keyboard solos. A fantastic song, and incidentally the title of the 'Star One' name is lifted directly from an episode title in the "Blakes 7" series.

'Starchild' is a 9 minute progressive track based on "2001: A Space Odyssey" of course. I knew that before it even started and then hearing the atmospheric opening with spacey vocal chorus and weird lyrics; "touch me now and feel my force", indicate the Monolith is speaking. Then we hear a different style of vocal singing, "something strange I feel confused I don't know why, I've been designed to tell the truth, I cannot lie," and it is obvious that HAL is speaking. It is interesting to hear from the computers POV here. It is one of my all time favourite movies so to hear it in song form is a compelling experience. Star One really captures the awe and mystery of Kubrick's classic, and the lead break soars beautifully. The lyrics even touch on the trip through the stargate, the all-seeing eye and the transformation of Bowman to the Starchild.

Disc 2 is a great bonus on the Limited Edition running for only 41 minutes but well worth it for a couple of masterpieces. One of these is 'Hawkwind Medley' an awesome Hawkwind feast of memorable melodies clocking 9:40. It is made all the better as legendary Dave Brock is on vocals and this is a must for all Hawkwind fanatics. A simply brilliant tribute to the band and very heavy. We have a terrific medley of such classics as 'Master of the Universe', 'Silver Machine', 'Brainstorm', 'Assault and Battery', 'The War I Survived', 'Spirit of the Age' among others. They blend together well and are an absolute delight to the ears.

'Spaced Out' is the next track of note, with a heavy riff and fast pace. The lyrics indicate that this is based on John Carpenter's iconic debut movie "Dark Star"; "emergency override, information overload, we are all about to explode." The keyboards on this are incredible and this rocks harder than a lot of stuff on CD 1.

'Inseparable Enemies' has a cool squealing riff driving it. The song is about the end of a war and coming to the realisation "that we are not alone". The "fortress in space" with men dying in a blood red sky could be based on many sci fi films or TV shows I have seen, such as "Babylon 5" or "Fortress" for that matter. "The birth of a brand new race, the turning of a new page" gave it away, as this is actually based on "Enemy Mine", though I had no idea till I looked that up. The music is a steady tempo and some accomplished vocals trading off enhance it.

'Space Oddity' is a darker amazing cover of Bowie's well known classic. The vocals have a Bowie-esque flavour but this is way different musically, with low droning synths and keyboard pads. The bridge is atmospheric with echo vocals, and the crescendo is a blast of really heavy distorted crunching riffs, then a clean guitar takes over beautifully. The result is a stunning cover version enhancing the rather sparse original on every level.

There is also a cover version of Donovan's 'Intergalactic Laxative', which works as a curio with some hilarious lyrics about the interminable problems of pooping in space. Moving on. 'Starchild' Mixed In Dolby Pro-Logic) is the same as the Disc 1 version apart from remastered mixing making it crisp and sharp. 'Spaced Out' (Alternative Version) is rather the same musically but the vocals are slightly different. Overall the bonus disc is worth getting for at least the cover versions.

Overall, the album is not the masterpiece of the follow up "Victims of the Modern Age" but this is still quality prog metal and has some fantastic songs and awesome sci fi themes to revel in.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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